A Maryland family is being threatened by Child Protective Services for allowing their two children to play alone at a neighborhood park.
The incident initially began last November when the children, ages 6 and 10, were reported for playing by themselves only two blocks from home.
The children’s mother, Danielle Meitiv, was contacted by the Montgomery Country Child Welfare Service and told that she had violated the law by essentially endangering a child under the age of 8.
According to CPS, the younger child had been “confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle” without a guardian present.
Surprisingly, the CPS employee’s superiors found the charge to be inaccurate and unwarranted, resulting in the case being dropped.
Thinking the pair were free to continue playing outside, the children’s father was shocked when answering a knock on their door last Saturday.
Speaking with Reason.com, Meitiv explained her husband’s encounter in detail.
“It seemed that we had called their bluff and they were going to leave us alone. Not for long,” she said. “This past Saturday, while I was out of town, my husband dropped my kids off at a park about 1 mile from our house and said they could walk home together. They got 1/2 way when someone called the police.”
A female police officer arrived at the family’s home shortly after and immediately requested the father’s ID, threatening to call backup if he failed to retrieve it.
As the father headed upstairs to grab his identification, the officer reportedly threatened to shoot him if he brought back “anything else.”
“He said he would get his ID and went to go upstairs,” Meitiv explained. “She said – in front of the kids – that if he came down with anything else, ‘shots would be fired.'”
Meitiv says she learned of the incident after receiving a call from her 10-year-old, who was in tears over the officer’s comments.
“At this point [my] 10 yr old called me crying, saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested,” she said. “My husband stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to the kids, she actually asked him: ‘Don’t you watch TV?’ (The answer was no). They took notes and left.”
Less than two hours later the father heard another knock on the door, this time from an employee of the Montgomery Country Child Welfare Service.
The CPS agent asked the father to sign a “temporary plan,” which stated that the children could not be left unsupervised until another CPS employee contacted him the following Monday.
Initially refusing to sign, the father eventually caved after the CPS employee called the police and threatened to take his children.
While police and CPS claim that the children are too young to play on their own, Meitiv says her kids are safe and are learning to be responsible.
“This is outrageous. We refuse to deprive our children of critical opportunities to develop responsibility and independence, and have no intention of fundamentally changing our parenting to accommodate this kind of paranoia and bullying, but it’s not going to be easy,” she said. “We are now waiting for the call from Child Welfare and looking for someone who can give us legal advice on these issues in Maryland.”
Meitiv’s situation is becoming an increasingly common occurrence as parents are threatened for letting their children engage in activity once considered normal.
A Texas mother of three was visited by police and CPS just last September after a neighbor complained about her son playing alone less than 150 yards from his front porch.
“She asked my 12 year old if he had ever done drugs or alcohol. She asked my 8-year-old daughter if she had ever seen movies with people’s private parts, so my daughter, who didn’t know that things like that exist, does now,” the mother said. “Thank you, CPS.”
In late July a Florida mother was charged with child neglect after allowing her 7-year old to play in a neighborhood park as well despite no law defining how old a child must be to play alone.
That same month a mother in South Carolina was charged with neglect after neighbors spotted her child playing alone in a park. The 9-year-old girl was taken into state custody as the mother was thrown in jail.
Although child abduction rates continue to drop every year, parents are having to second guess every decision for fear of child abduction from the state.
Despite statements from the CPS, children in state custody are 10 times more likely to be abused and 600 percent more likely to be tortured, neglected and murdered than a child living with its parents.